The promise of summer fun is exciting, but the thought of how the longer days will impact the sleep patterns of our little ones is a less exciting thought!
As the days grow warmer and we turn our clocks forward an hour, you may find it more difficult to settle your children and babies into their new bed time. You may also find that your mornings start a little earlier than you are used to!
Young children cannot tell the time, so the disruption to their routine is mostly due to the lighter evenings and mornings and the clock change. You might recognise yourself that it can be harder to fall asleep and stay asleep when it isn’t dark, but do you know why?
Let’s explore the reasons behind disrupted sleep and some tips you can use to combat it with your little ones.
Melatonin and Sleep
Melatonin is the sleep hormone that is released by a gland in the body called the pineal gland. Melatonin relaxes our bodies and increases our drive to sleep. When light decreases in the evening, you produce more melatonin, which makes you feel drowsy. As morning dawns and it gets lighter outside, melatonin levels decrease and you wake up.
This is why daylight savings can have a big impact on your child’s sleep. Now it is becoming darker so much later than their usual bedtime, it impacts when their melatonin production is triggered. It also starts to get light at around 5-6am when their natural dose of melatonin is wearing off.
Interestingly, new-born babies do have a pineal gland, but they do not produce enough melatonin and certainly don’t produce it consistently at night. That is why they generally sleep for short bursts and wake up at all hours. However, by around the 60th day of life, a baby’s melatonin production starts to increase. With the support of good sleep habits and an environment conducive to sleep , their sleep patterns become more organised.
Tips and Tricks to Help Your Child Sleep During Daylight Savings
As you know, darkness supports sleep. This harks back to our primal roots. When night time approached for our cave dwelling ancestors, it brought with it complete darkness. Coupled with the drop in temperature, Melatonin production was triggered.
You can replicate this at home by keeping your baby's room as cool and as dark as possible. You can achieve this by:-
Investing in quality blackout blinds or curtains to help keep your baby's room as dark as possible to help optimise Melatonin production.
Are your blinds dark enough?
You can find this out by trying to read the text in a book while in your child’s room. If you can read it, the room isn’t dark enough! If necessary place a dark sheet or blanket over the top of the blind to block out light seeping from the sides.
If you are still struggling to achieve a dark enough sleep environment for your little one, check out our amazing Sleepy Sundays blackout blinds. These hugely popular blackout sheets will stick to any window in just a few seconds using only static. The tear off sheets fit to any window no matter what shape or size and are perfect to take away on holiday too.
Getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D-rich sunshine during the day is vital for supporting melatonin production at night. It also has the added benefit of supporting a healthy circadian rhythm too. Try and get your baby outside in natural light as much as possible. Place a blanket under a shady tree (avoid direct sunshine) in the garden and let your baby enjoy looking up at the moving branches and clouds. Babies love being outside and the extra dose of fresh air and natural light will really help boost their Melatonin production at night.
How to manage your baby's sleep when the clocks move forward.
The good news is adjusting your baby's body clock moving into summer is much easier than when the clocks go back at the end of summer.
If you want to prepare your baby for the 1 hour time change here is how you can do it.
MON & TUES... WAKE UP - 6:45am - all feeds and naps 15 mins earlier - bedtime 6:45pm
WED & THURS... WAKE UP 6:30am - all feeds & naps 30 mins earlier - bedtime 6:30pm
FRI & SAT... WAKE UP 6:15am - all feeds & naps 45 mins earlier - bedtime 6:15pm
SUNDAY... WAKE UP 7am - follow your usual nap & feed routine - bedtime 7pm
While daylight savings can be disruptive for your child’s sleep patterns, it is not impossible. If you are struggling with settling your little one to sleep at this time of year, feel free to get in touch with me here at Serene Sleep. I have plenty of support options, ranging from one off phone consultation to more in depth face to face appointments. Check them out HERE